Baked From Scratch: Pita Bread

Pita Bread || A Less Processed Life

Making yeast breads typically gives me heart palpitations. All that kneading and rising, who has time for that? And then I came upon this rather simple recipe for pita bread.

Pita Bread || A Less Processed Life

Of course, given my track record with baking yeast breads, my first batch of dough was a complete #failure. I left the dough in the bottom warming drawer of my oven to rise and then proceeded to bake other things at 475 degrees. Long story short, by the time I pulled my dough out of the warming drawer, I basically had a layer of baked pita bread atop some sticky dough. Whoops.

So, yeah, when the recipe says place the dough in a "warm, not hot" place to rise ... take heed! The second time I made the dough, though, everything went swimmingly, and it was actually quite a breeze to bake.

Pita bread is quite versatile. These breads bake up hollow in the center, so you can use them as pocket breads to fill with your favorite sandwich fixings (I'm partial to greens, lentils, and roasted vegetables). Or, you can go the lazy route and use the pita as a base for a flatbread pizza or sandwich. Or, you could cut the pita into wedges and serve alongside hummus. The options are endless, really!

Pita Bread (printer-friendly version)
makes 8 six-inch breads

1 cup lukewarm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 whole-wheat flour
2 cups unbleached unbleached all-purposed flour, divided (plus up to 1/4 cup more for dusting)
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Pour the lukewarm water into a medium mixing bowl. Add the active dry yeast and sugar and whisk to combine. Add the whole-wheat flour and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and whisk to combine. Put the bowl in a warm place (uncovered) until mixture is frothy and bubbling, about 15 minutes.
2. Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour, salt, and olive oil. Stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. Sprinkle with a little flour and knead in the bowl, adding in any dough bits stuck to the side of the bowl.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 2 minutes until smooth. Cover with a light towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Then knead again for 2 more minutes. The dough will be soft and slightly moist. Clean and lightly oil the mixing bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, then cover with the light towel. Put the dough in a warm location and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
4. Place a heavy baking sheet or baking stone on the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Punch down the dough and then divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Cover the dough balls with a damp towel and let sit for 10 minutes.
5. Remove one ball (keeping the rest covered) and roll out into a circle 8-inches in diameter (it should be between 1/4- and 1/8-inch thick.) Carefully place the dough round on the prepped baking stone and bake for 2 minutes, or until puffed and lightly speckled brown. Flip with a spatula or tongs and bake for an additional minute. Place in a towel-lined bowl and cover to keep warm.
6. Repeat with the remaining rounds of dough.
7. Store any leftover pita bread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

(adapted from this recipe from The New York Times)

Pita Bread || A Less Processed Life